Insulin spray aided memory in Alzheimer's study

Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:05pm EDT
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By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A daily spritz of insulin in the nose helped improve memory skills in people with Alzheimer's-linked memory problems, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Patients in a small study -- who include people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's and a pre-Alzheimer's condition known as amnestic mild cognitive impairment, or aMCI -- showed improvement in overall cognitive function. Those who got the lower dose also showed improvements in recalling details of a story after a brief delay.

"Our results suggest that the administration of intranasal insulin may have a therapeutic benefit for adults with aMCI or Alzheimer's disease," Suzanne Craft of the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Neurology.

The study involved 104 patients with mild cognitive decline or mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimer's experts warn that findings need to be confirmed in larger, longer trials, but they said it was a welcome advance at a time when few treatments have shown any sign of improving memory troubles in these patients.

"Anything that shows benefits even in stabilizing cognitive decline is worth noticing right now. Obviously, like any other study, it has to be replicated and independently confirmed. If that happens, then there will be a lot of interest in moving in this direction," Dr. Sam Gandy of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center in New York said in a telephone interview.

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: 36 participants got a moderate dose of insulin sprayed daily into their nose, 36 patients got a higher dose daily and 30 participants got a placebo daily for four months.

All treatments were given through a nasal drug delivery device made by Kurve Technology of Bothell, Washington.   Continued...